consider the Bible?
A nautical tale
up. Shut up, I'm busy."
was the last message the ship S.S. Titanic sent to the ship Californian
on April 14, 1912 prior to striking an iceberg that night. In reply to
the Californian's repeated warnings of icebergs, the message was angrily
dispatched by the Titanic's radio operator who was preoccupied with wiring
passengers' mid-Atlantic greetings.
Regardless of whether or not it's true, is the Bible that important?
Undeniably, it's very
difficult to tell who believes the Bible and who doesn't based solely on
outward appearance. Both consist of the rich, the poor, the intellectual,
the ignorant, the happy, the sad; and not one person in the bunch will we
find to be perfect. So the question crosses our minds, "Regardless of whether
or not the Bible is true, is it even important?"
Determining the believability
of the Bible is important for several reasons. The Bible claims to be the
voice-on-earth of the one true God. It claims to be foundational for learning
about the creator of the universe, about being made spiritually alive by
God, and about loving one another. But most importantly, the
Bible claims to assure us how we can survive the physical death every one
of us will suffer.
Receive the following
allegory as my argument as to why a person should consider the Bible:
7.2 A piece of paper says the ship is sinking.
Imagine being on a long
pleasure cruise; a warm summer evening with the first breeze of dusk just
coming over the bow of our ocean liner gliding into the starlight ahead.
Silently standing against the railing of the highest deck, we look down
to see below us crowds of fellow passengers going about their evenings.
Some are strolling along, others are absorbed in this activity or that,
a few are laughing, and some are retiring to their cabins below.
What we see next strikes
us as strangely different from everyone else. Certain people are putting
on life preservers and are trying to convince others to do the same. One
of them notices our curiosity and hands us documentation that purports to
be from the captain. It contains this message: "The ship is sinking".
do we do?
7.3 What would you do?
First questions first:
this message really from the captain? Is this message important?
The importance of the
message lies within its truthfulness. If it's not true, then it's not important.
But if it is true, then we need to believe it and act accordingly. So having
received notice of the information, what's our next step?
We look around. At
the moment, everything seems normal. Casual observation neither confirms
nor refutes that the ship is or could be in dire straits, but it's a big
ship. If the ship were in trouble, a warning of some kind is what we would
expect. And a warning long before the sight of drowning family members is
when we would want it.
On one hand, the passengers
who are retiring to their cabins try to assure us, "The ship is fine. It
always has been, always will be. " The fact that so many people believe
this provides a certain amount of comfort.
On the other hand, we
cannot deny that the dark ocean floor, miles below us, is crowded with ships
like the Titanic that mistook similar assurances for security (crowded in
the sense they don't need us to join them!). To this end, the other voices
sound out, "Get in the lifeboat - it's the only way you'll make it."
The sincerity of both
voices only heightens the mystery: Is this ship
really sinking? How can we know? What do we do now?
Let's consider our options.
7.4 Three possible options.
(1) We could do nothing.
Totally ignoring the message leaves us on the ship and wearing no life preserver.
So if we are going to stay, we may as well make the most of it and go with
(2) We could assume
the message is wrong and go back to our own cabin. The advantages are:
our cabin is comfortable, that is what many friends and neighbors are doing,
and that's where all of our stuff is. Of course, the disadvantage is that
if the ship goes to the bottom, so will we. A third option is...
(3) We could assume
the message is correct and get into the lifeboat. There is plenty of
time to board, they're still letting people in, and if the ship sinks, slowly
or suddenly, we'll be saved. However, there are several adjustments
we would encounter. These adjustments include wearing the life preserver
(which results in discomfort when trying to move in ways it restricts),
leaving behind those things which the lifeboat will not accommodate, and
placing ourselves under the lifeboat chief's authority until it departs
and we are rescued.
Personally, I doubt
that I could quickly forsake the many immediate comforts of the ship. Donning
a restrictive lifejacket and submitting to some unfamiliar authority isn't
my idea of vacation. (Isn't that why we're here?) But
who could completely put that warning out of their mind?
Some people are saying
that the warning isn't authentic. They know about all kinds people who have
looked at the ship and said it looked fine to them. We should have faith
in their rebuttal of the warning. Or should we? It would be hypocritical
to condemn faith in the warning only to take up faith in the rebuttal without
having investigated either one. So again, what should we do?
have others done in similar situations done?
7.5 Learn from the mistakes of others.
Witnesses tell us that
the Titanic initially launched some of its precious few lifeboats only one-third
to one-half full. That ocean liner's nickname "Unsinkable" now mocks all
1,517 who remained on board -- some undoubtedly recalling to mind their
lost opportunity as they died. While there was still hope of escape, certain
passengers had been comfortable in gambling that tomorrow would come and
go just as the previous day, and that the lifeboats they had watched leave
would soon be returning with very cold and very embarrassed congregations.
This leaves us asking
ourselves whether or not there is any possibility that we might be in a
comparable position. Though we might think a sinking ship is improbable,
it is nevertheless possible. Therefore, this fourth very rational option
seems to be the most reasonable choice:
7.6 A reasonable compromise.
(4) Check out that
documentation to see if it is true.
The documentation represents
the Bible. The ship is representative of the world, the lifeboat represents
the salvation God has provided for us in Jesus Christ, and the life preserver
God's Holy Spirit with which each believer is sealed as a guide and guarantee
of God's grace.
what similar life-or-death consequence does the Bible boast that it should
be given consideration?
7.7 Where does the Bible fit in?
The Bible's message
is largely a positive one of God's love for humanity; collectively and personally.
Yet the message is also one of humanity's desperate need to receive God's
forgiveness and regeneration; not just collectively but also personally.
This includes confessing our sinfulness to him and personally receiving
his forgiveness as earned for us by Jesus Christ.
By being drawn by God
to believe in him, and receiving his forgiveness, and being given the Holy
Spirit in return, we are spiritually reborn (or "born again").
We are sealed and legally set apart (though not separated) from everything
corrupted by sin and death - things God's character of justice has slated
In terms of our analogy,
we can either receive the security and guidance of God's Holy Spirit today,
guaranteeing our eternal rescue into his presence, or eventually go down
with the world which God has graciously warned us in advance must be destroyed.
The point is that the Bible's message does claim to be a matter of
eternal life or death. Therefore, if the message is true, it is extremely
7.8 Are you in the majority?
there a God? Is Jesus God? Did Jesus' death and resurrection secure your
forgiveness or not? If the ship
is sinking, is the Jesus-lifeboat the right lifeboat?
With eternity potentially
at stake, simply investigating the documentation we've been left with is
positively the most reasonable way to avoid gambling away the future.
Curiously, the Bible
predicts that most people will actually end up neglecting Christ and forfeiting
his offer of life. But that's not hard to imagine considering that when
those lifeboats left the Titanic, the majority remaining on board did drown,
NEXT: What is the Bible all about?
The story of the S.S.
Titanic: A more in-depth comparison...
is the gospel?
What is "Christian"?